One of the hottest topics of debate right now is the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which would institute a “cap and trade” system capping the greenhouse gases that American industry produces and allowing companies to trade with one another for the rights to emissions that they need in their power-generation and manufacturing. It’s believed cap and trade would lead to lower CO2 emissions, thereby combating global warming. Republicans have been quick to attack the plan, raising the specter that a cap and trade system will “raise utility costs on every American family to generate $646 billion in new taxes, while shipping millions of American jobs to foreign countries.” One common talking point used by conservatives to attack cap and trade is that cap and tradewill increase costs per family by an estimated $1,600 to $3,200 each year, tantamount to an increase in taxes for those families.
While Republicans are beating the tax increase talking point to death, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the average American household could pay an added $175 a year in energy costs by 2020 if the American Clean Energy and Security Act becomes law. Further, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates the additional average cost per household to be between $98 and $140 per year. Now I wasn’t a math major in school, but even with my rudimentary math skills, $175 is not equal to $1,600 or $3,200 or any number in between, and even one of the authors of the MIT study Republicans are basing their figure on has said the GOP’s use of the study is “simplistic and misleading” and that it “ignores key provisions designed to cushion the impact on consumers.”
I’ll admit – I’m not completely sold on American Clean Energy and Security Act, simply because I haven’t read enough about it to know what it’s really going to do or how it’s going to impact me, but I will say this – I’d gladly pay a little more out of my pocket to enjoy cleaner air.